WILMINGTON, Del. — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Fox News’ America’s Newsroom to discuss the death of George Floyd.
“I think in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Judiciary Committee ought to be convening an oversight hearing where we look into the whole string of tragic killings, of incidents that are deeply wounding to our country, of police violence and then of response by communities,” said Senator Coons.“There needs to be a prompt and thorough investigation and by all accounts the U.S. Attorney and the county attorney are conducting that investigation. My hope is that that will reach a conclusion promptly, so that the community has some confidence that this won't be an endless investigation without a resolution […] I think this needs to be addressed forcefully and swiftly.”
Full audio and video available here. A transcript is provided below.
[Clip: Sen. Lindsey Graham] If you are a circuit judge, in your mid-60s, late 60s, you can take senior status. Now would be a good time to do that if you want to make sure the judiciary is right of center; this is a good time to do it.
Q: That is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham looking to reshape the nation’s courts; urging older judges to step aside by election day so they can be replaced by younger conservative judges. Joining us now with the reaction is Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He serves on the Judiciary Committee as well. So when the chairman made that proposal, Senator, what did you think?
Sen. Coons: Well, John, I think in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Judiciary Committee ought to be convening an oversight hearing where we look into the whole string of tragic killings, of incidents that are deeply wounding to our country, of police violence and then of response by communities. But when Chairman Lindsey Graham says something like that, it is a reminder that this has become a very politicized Judiciary Committee and judicial confirmation process. President Trump has nominated and the Republican majority Senate has confirmed more than 200 judges, so Chairman Graham is continuing to advance that agenda. There are other things I wish we would focus on that we should focus on. The pandemic response and recovery and the ways that's impacted federal law enforcement, federal prisons and a lot of other issues that are under the purview of his committee or this tragic recent killing in Minneapolis.
Q: We will talk about that killing in just a moment, but staying on the Senator Graham proposal for a moment, I mean there is nothing illegal about it. It might be unsavory if you are in the Democratic minority in the Senate right now. You might not like it, but that's kind of the way the pendulum swings, isn't it?
Sen. Coons: I agree, there's nothing illegal about it. Senator Graham is entitled to his own opinion, and he often shares it in very memorable quotes and quips. He has been a very active Judiciary Committee Chairman. He and I have managed to work well together on a number of issues and areas, and we strongly disagree on others. He and I recently introduced a bill together that would combat so-called wet markets, the wildlife trafficking markets that many would argue led to the emergence of the pandemic in China. But on judiciary nominations, I have strenuously and forcefully disagreed with him both on the substance of many of the circuit court nominees and the process he has followed to get them confirmed. That is how the process works. Our two parties disagree sharply about the judicial confirmation process.
Q: So let's talk now about Minneapolis and the situation there. The police officers most directly involved in this terrible incident caught on video have been fired. What else in your view should transpire?
Sen. Coons: Well first, the family of George Floyd has been calling for peaceful demonstrations, for a calm and respect for his memory. There needs to be a prompt and thorough investigation and by all accounts the U.S. Attorney and the county attorney are conducting that investigation. My hope is that that will reach a conclusion promptly, so that the community has some confidence that this won't be an endless investigation without a resolution. Certainly from the video evidence that's been seen over and over by millions of Americans and around the world, the police officer who is responsible for the killing of George Floyd was engaging in a brutal and unrelenting effort to snuff out his life, and this has reawakened and torn open the wounds of dozens of similar incidents in recent years. I think this needs to be addressed forcefully and swiftly.
Q: Well, that's the question, people are saying look, the video evidence is right there, why are charges not being filed yesterday?
Sen. Coons: My expectation and hope would be that charges will be filed very soon. It has been three days. I think that's plenty of time for quick interviews, for reviews of the tape of the evidence. If there are other unknown to the public complicating factors, I think they haven't yet surfaced. So there is a great question given that the mayor is calling for the arrest of a member of his own police department. It is a real question, why is this taking so long?
Q: Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware. Busy times, and we appreciate you taking some time out of your day to talk with us this morning. Thank you, sir.